Netflix doco explores life of Brazilian trans cartoonist

Issue 
Laerte.

Larte-se
Directed by Lygia BarbosaEliane Brum
Netflix

A documentary that premiered on Netflix on May 19 explores the life of a Brazilian transgender cartoonist who says she wants to break taboos surrounding her gender identity.

Laerte Coutinho, better known as simply Laerte and one of Brazil’s best-known cartoonists and comic strip artists, introduced herself as a woman at the age of 60.

“I’m at a point where all of that ceased to be taboo for me,” Laerte, now 65, said in Sao Paulo during the presentation of Laerte-se, a Tru3Lab production for Netflix.

“It stopped being a problem, and so for that to become a positive experience for other people I think is great.”

A camera accompanied Laerte for months and captured different aspects of her life for the documentary. Sprinkled with humour and featuring some rehearsed scenes, the documentary takes viewers inside Laerte’s home and provides insight into her life and career.

Laerte says that it was through her cartoons — and particularly the character Hugo, a man in a constant state of transition who converses with his female alter-ego, Muriel — that she began to explore her identity as a woman.

Her illustrations complement the dialogue throughout the documentary, which was directed by journalist Eliane Brum and filmmaker Lygia Barbosa da Silva.

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